Strawberries dipped in milky chocolate or soothing cinammon on hot apple slices - some food pairings make your mouth water just thinking of them.
But when it comes to matches made in heaven, it is hard to go past red wine and a juicy steak.
What makes this pairing so deliciously indulgent? Aside from tickling your taste buds just right, the answer, like most things, traces back to science.
The inner-makings of both red wine and steak are a match made in culinary heaven. Where the wine is concerned, it all comes down to tannins. Tannins are naturally-occurring compounds (also called polyphenols) found in the skin, stem and seeds of grapes. The compounds are released when these parts of the grape get to know each other by soaking in the grape juice after being pressed.
Another source of a wine’s tannins comes from the barrel it’s kept in, which it absorbs during the aging process. It may seem like nothing more than a storage method, but the barrel can also contribute to the overall flavour of a wine too.
An easy way to work out how strong the tannins are in a wine is by noting if it gives your mouth a particularly dry sensation after drinking it. The drier the taste, the stronger the tannin. Its strength correlates to how long the soaking process was after pressing. The longer the soaking, the stronger the tannin. Hence, red wine tends to have much stronger tannins than white as the grape skins are left to produce a darker colour the longer they soak.
Teaming steak and wine together is where the magic truly happens. The tannins from the red wine soften the fatty part of the steak and allow its fullest flavour to be released. If you’re looking for maximum taste, a high-tannin red wine is your best bet here. While the steak and wine mingle in your mouth, the steak works to draw out the fruits in the wine and soften its astringency to remove the bitterness. The result is a perfect match.
Proving that opposites attract, the moisture of the steak combined with the dryness of the wine balance each other out to create an irresistible taste sensation in the mouth. There’s even a proven health benefit of putting this dynamic duo together, as polyphenols found in the wine can reduce the amount of 'bad’ cholesterol entering the bloodstream, preventing damage from occurring to your blood vessels. Let that serve as a valid excuse the next time you fancy having a steak and red wine dinner two nights in a row!
But which red wine should you team with which steak? Typically, the leaner the meat, the lighter the wine you should choose to pair it with. Rich and fatty meat needs a higher-tannin wine to help cut through the fat and release its flavour. In particular, Argentine Malbec works well with steak as it’s known for its particularly high levels of tannins.
Trivento, Argentina's best selling wine brand in Europe, comes from the two most recognised growing regions in Mendoza - Lujan de Cuyo & Uco Valley.
Trivento Reserve Malbec boasts an aroma of cherries and raspberries alongside vanilla and coconut notes resulting from 20% of the wine aging process taking place in French oak barrels. The result is a full-bodied Malbec that is high in sweet tannins and has a velvety finish.It is the perfect accompaniment for a juicy ribeye and hot oven-roasted potatoes.
Continuing on the theme of epic match-ups, enjoy a glass of Trivento Reserve as you sit back and relax watching Ireland square-up against Argentina in the Autumn Internationals at the Aviva this weekend.
Discover the Malbec, Discover Trivento at trivento.ie.
Always drink responsibly.